All You Need To Know About The Kerala-Style Vadumanga
Image Credit: Thottuka Foods

Vadumanga or maavadu – as it is most commonly known in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is one of the few summer time pickles that require very little prep compared to the arduous process that a typical aam ka achaar would involve. Made using tender or baby raw mangoes that resemble miniature versions of the whole fruit, the mangoes used for the vadumanga are relatively more rounded in shape, with a bright green colour. Brined in a spicy solution of salt, mustard and chilli powder, the ‘gravy’ of the vadumanga has a runnier texture compared to most spice coatings on other types of pickles.

The seasonal wild mangoes – known as killimooku – that are used for the pickle come from the western ghats where these fruits yield in the open. Interestingly enough, the technique of making the pickle involves sun-drying the mango and spice mixture as a whole, in order to let the flavours seep into the whole mangoes. Served as an accompaniment to thayir-sadham or mor-sadam (buttermilk and rice), vadumanga has an imposingly pungent flavour with mild spiciness. Since the usage of whole mangoes is integral to the vadumanga preparation, the pickle has a longer shelf life than its counterparts.

Image Credits: Girija Paati

While North Indian pickle preparations prefer to use mustard oil as their fat base in which vegetables marinate, the vadumanga uses sesame or gingelly oil to boost flavour. Maavadu is also considered to be a traditional pickle from the Tamil Brahmin community, where it features prominently as a pantry condiment. What is also integral to preserve the freshness of the pickle while preparing it, is to leave a small bit of the stem in the centre of the mango that allows the mangoes to avoid perishing sooner. Typically, only a handful of spices feature in the traditional recipe that is a two-step process where the mangoes are first soaked in salt, before spices can be added in.

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  • 1 kilo maavadu
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 100 grams sea salt
  • 50 grams red chilli powder
  • 4 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • 4-5 tablespoons gingelly oil


  • Wash and pat dry the baby mangoes thoroughly before layering them in a glass jar with salt between each of the mango layers.
  • Seal tightly and allow it to sit in the sun everyday for a week, mixing with a clean spoon at regular intervals.
  • Heat the gingelly oil in a pan and add the remaining ingredients to mix well and bloom, before you gently pour it into the salt and mango mixture.
  • Mix thoroughly so that the spices and oil coat the baby mangoes and let it cool completely at room temperature.
  • Close the jar with a clean lid and let the pickle rest for 3-4 days, before you can enjoy.